Risør was an important harbour from the 1500s because of its particularly well-sheltered position just off Skagerrak. The place-name Risør means ”The scrubcovered isles”, and originally referred to the small islands outside of town. Large amounts of logs from the hinterland were floated down the fjords to be traded and exported from Risør. Reparation of seaweathered ships became an important craft, leading to the establishment of shipyards. These eventually also built new boats. More and more people settled and commenced trading. Gaining official status in 1723, Risør is one of the oldest towns along the south coast of Norway.